Serge Lutens – Sa Majesté La Rose

Serge Lutens – Sa Majesté La Rose
Sa Majeste la RoseFragrances are, for the most part, an exercise in artifice: by combining a series of notes, perfumers are able to weave together a cohesive scent that evolves over time. At times, the notes work in harmony to create complementary accords or impressions, while other fragrances charm us with seemingly incongruous themes that somehow work together beautifully (think Missoni Eau de Parfum, with its alternating layers of fruit and chocolate).

While Serge Lutens is a master of olfactory tales, Sa Majesté La Rose is a distinct departure from his standard fare. Instead of an opulent romance of exotic, far away lands, the fragrance is a perfect illusion, a realistic study of the majestic rose for which it is named.

Sa Majesté La Rose opens with a pert, slightly spicy rose tinged with a hint of fruity liqueur. While it possess a fuller, richer body, at the opening it is not unlike Rose by Caron. As the fragrance progresses however it takes on a subtle complexity that reveals just how multi-faceted a rose can be. Sa Majesté softens into a warm, slightly smoky rose with hints of honeyed camomile. It is somewhat astonishing in its realism and yet it is never tiresome.

Red Rose Bouquet

In fact, Sa Majesté La Rose reminds me of walking into a room and witnessing a bouquet of roses unfolding over the course of the day. Starting out slightly tart in the morning when first placed into the vase and sharing the opulence of its scented gifts in the evening as the soft, velvety petals unfold.

While Sa Majesté possesses enough character to be worn on its own, it makes a delicious fragrance for layering, adding a rosy fullness to whatever it comes into contact with. It lends itself especially well to layering with other fragrances in the Serge Lutens line. One of my personal favorite combinations is with Muscs Khublai Khan, with Sa Majesté enhancing the subtle rose qualities of Muscs. While the combination may sound like an olfactory overdose, the meeting of these two powerhouses has the effect of tempering the more extreme aspects of each, much like a successful romance brings out the best in us.

Notes: Moroccan Rose Absolute, Gaiac Wood, Clove, White Honey, Musk

Serge Lutens – A La Nuit

Serge Lutens – A La Nuit

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I live in an area where the climate is predominantly hot and humid year-round. While this robs me of certain pastimes and limits my ability to fully indulge in my winter fragrance wardrobe, access to the outdoors I have in abundance. One of my greatest pleasures is evening walks through my neighborhood, where I am often accompanied by the sweet, heady scent of night-blooming jasmine. The sillage of natural jasmine is unbelievably potent, its indolic fragrance lingering in the air long after I have passed its source.

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Jasmine adds a sense of surrealism to the night, stealthily appearing out of the darkness, a presence which becomes nearly palpable. Jasmine also evokes a bit of melancholy, as the tiny buds which were so tightly bound throughout the day unfurl come nightfall to reveal their gift, only to expire in the process. The scent we experience occurs at the end of the cycle for the flower, the nectar it releases serving as a call for renewal and rebirth by pollination. It is fitting then that the dense, sweet scent of jasmine can often suggest a hint of decay or decomposition. It is this tangible, poignant quality of jasmine that Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake capture so skillfully in A La Nuit.

While jasmine as a note is commonly used in perfumery to lend a rich, velvety quality to a fragrance, a jasmine soliflore is quite another thing altogether. If you do not enjoy jasmine as a singular note, then please read no further, for A La Nuit is surely the quintessential jasmine fragrance, with an opening so true to the flower that it almost resembles an essential oil. In “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide”, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez refer to A La Nuit as “death by jasmine”. For me, the fragrance represents instead “death of jasmine”. Lutens perfectly captures the beautiful, ephemeral nature of this flower, from the moment of its opening bloom through its eventual expiration, rendering it in ample, sweeping strokes.

serge-lutens-a-la-nuit-lg-1Lutens and Sheldrake sourced high quality jasmine of Moroccan, Indian and Egyptian origins, combining them with green notes to render a three-dimensional floral presence. The opening is intense, even for a jasmine enthusiast and holds nothing back, much like the actual flower reaching its tendrils of scent through the night air.

A La Nuit remains tenacious and potent for close to two hours until little by little, the fragrance begins softening, like the embers of a dying fire. The overripe, spicy sensation begins dissipating, only to be replaced with a warm, slightly floral base that hints faintly at musk and Lutens’s signature amber, giving the fragrance a subtle woody character.

Like many of Serge Lutens’s fragrances, A La Nuit appears to be a narrative, written in scent which tells of the beauty and eventual dissolution of jasmine. While A La Nuit is the story of a flower, I cannot help but think that Lutens is conveying the reality of the human condition as well, its fragility and transience.


Notes: Moroccan, Indian and Egyptian jasmine, green shoots, white honey, benzoin, musk and clove